Community Gardens

We are not all blessed with having the space to have a garden at home. Container gardening only takes keeps you satisfied for so long and that is where the community gardens come in. Community gardens vary by state, city, or even neighborhoods and no 2 are alike but the idea is all the same. They unite residents and provide a place to grow our own produce. Fees, rules, and regulations will differ from garden to garden. Most gardens require a fee, and some also require community service hours. Gardening is growing in popularity and space at the community gardens is limited. Many, if not all, have a waiting list. The difference in community gardens does not end there. Plot size from garden to garden will vary but should not be an issue. Most plants don’t require tons of space and should coexist without any issues.  Some plants will need trellises or cages to help control growth but it should not be a problem. Of course, gardens should be planned out. Once the plot is all planned out, the soil may need to be amended with compost and other organic material. A great benefit to having a plot in a community garden is that most, not all, will have compost and/or mulch for its gardeners. Some gardens may also have manure that can be added to plots to encourage growth.  These “extras” may be free or come at a fee. Along with these extras, the garden may have a stand that sells seeds or seedlings that can be purchased but these can also be bought elsewhere. After you have seeds or seedlings planted, you need to know how to keep them growing. Gardening does not come easy to anybody and books can only explain things so much. Some books and online resources are so broad sometimes that we are left to figure it out on our own. This is a perfect excuse to talk to your fellow gardeners and see what has worked for them. Your new friends may be full of useful information, tips and ideas that may have worked for them. I am all for making our own mistakes and learning from them, but what is wrong with getting some help along the way? Meet your plot neighbors and as many people as you can and form new friendships. Forming new friendships is part of life and helps us enjoy it. Once these friendships have been formed there is a feeling of community. Different people garden for different reasons, but getting out of the house and interacting with other people has its own rewards. Technology has put most people behind a computer screen and avatars are the only way we interact with the world. So, hop on the web and look up the community gardens that may be in your area. You may be shocked to find that you may have one nearby and you never knew about it. Luis

Let’s Get Vertical

Vertical gardening help those of us that have little to almost no space. The plants do not always need to be planted in the ground or beds but can also be grown in containers. A trellis or structure can also be made to fit into many containers. The only real requirement is for this structure is that it supports the plant and fruits as some can get really heavy. 

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Teepees and trellises are some of the easiest things to build from inexpensive materials. All you need for a teepee is three posts or poles and some sort of rope or twine. If you are more of a handier person and would not mind spending a little more time, there are more options. Trellises can also be made of PVC piping or a heavier material but may not necessarily be cheap. Although, there are places out there that “up-cycle” and may even give away materials. If you are like me and are trying to keep costs low, these are great options. 

The main idea behind Vertical Gardening is to find better and more efficient ways of using your available space. Along with extending the variety of vegetables, vertical gardening also helps grow healthier plants. Better air circulation, easier to weed and more open space for smaller plants are a few benefits of vertical gardening.

Luis

Container Gardening

This post is for those people where space may be an issue and large planter beds are not feasible. You would be surprised as to what can be grown in these small spaces. Of course, not all plants do well in containers but there are many that actually prefer it over being in the ground directly.

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When I started my gardening adventures, I planted directly into the ground but ran out of space and would not be able to fit the tray of plants I had started. I also wanted to have better growing conditions than my clay soil and by bringing in containers to fill with potting mix seemed easier. It also made more sense for me at that time. 

The containers can be pretty much anything but there are some minimum size recommendations. Most plants will not fruit until it feels anchored and a larger container may be needed. I am not saying you need a massive 20 gallon pot. Although if you have a dwarf tree of any sort, I have a kumquat tree, you may need one but most plants are fine with a 5 gallon pot.

Google brings up over 132,000,000 results for container gardening that may be more informative and much more thorough than this post. I invite you to read more than my 1 post. You will find A Guide to Container Gardening, a chart that shows minimum size requirements of containers for certain plants, here and many other pages.

Containers can be expensive, cheap or even free and who says they have to be ugly? Your creativity should be expressed. Stickers, paint, bottle caps and many other things can help spruce it up.  Your imagination is the only thing hold you back when decorating these containers.

I have used a rectangular salad container to start up some beet seeds and once they got big enough, I put them in the same container as my kumquat tree. The pot is so massive that the tree has room around it for more vegetables and this shows how one pot/container can be used for multiple things. If you have started your own seeds, possibly in your egg cartons or just in small containers, they may need to be transplanted into bigger pots at some point. Of course, the amount of available room for your garden will dictate the size of your containers and may require some creativity but may still bring in some vegetables or herbs.

A Smartpot with chard and a banana tree.

Well, I think this should give you some ideas as to where to begin. I know I did not go into detail about everything but I tried to include some useful links in the post. I am always here to try and answer any questions. As I have said before, I do not claim to have all the answers and do not thin I ever will, but may be able to lead you in the right direction. I also invite anybody that has comments / ideas / constructive criticism to post a comment with their information or idea.

Here are some products that may help:

  1. Smart Pots
  2. Patch Planters

Luis

 

Are You Gardening? Why Not?

I’m back with another post and this time I am asking as to why you are not gardening. I ran a google search for reasons to not garden but did not find anything that satisfied me.

If space is an issue, there are ways around it. You can try container gardening. There are many posts out there and all you gotta is just search for it. I started by using containers and will continue to do so in one way or another.

When I originally started gardening, I thought it would be too difficult but it has not been too bad. I am not going to lie, there is a learning curve. Although, the internet is there to help with every question / issue to that may arise. I started by tossing seeds into soil and added water. It is nerve racking not knowing as to whether or not anything will grow. When the seeds start sprouting, there is no feeling like it in the world. 

The general guidelines for seeds is to follow the directions on the packets. Those packets give you all the basics for those specific seeds. It will not give you every last detail but there is always the internet. When buying seedlings, keep those little tags that come with them and refer back to them when necessary. These tags offer similar information about the plant and help you keep them healthy.

Keeping your plants healthy does not have to be expensive. Gardening in general does not need to be expensive and there are many ways to achieve this. I have bought containers at the 99 cent store, and the spring sales are a great way to pick up potting soil and everything needed. Craigslist, Freecycle and the Pennysaver are great resources for free or near free stuff that you may need. 

That’s what I can think of now and would love to hear as to other reasons out there. I cannot promise that my information or ideas will work for everybody but at least you have started thinking about it. I leave it up to you to do more research about on the subject and not take my word as the absolute truth. There are new products and many other things that change out there daily.

Luis

Farmer’s Markets

I know there are many articles out there that try to get you to grow anywhere even if you don’t think you have enough space. Space may not even be the issue; it could be many different reasons. Regardless, it’s not always easy to grow everything yourself and that is pushing people to shop at farmer’s markets. The other reason is that most people see that we have a broken food system and all the chemicals that are constantly being used on our food.
The next best thing to growing your own is to buy from local growers. Meet your farmer and talk to them about their methods. You want to be as local as possible and may even be hyperlocal when you do a little research. You cannot do that with the conventional, broken agricultural system. 
Farmer’s markets are popping up all over and that gives the consumer more options to shop around. 
To find your local Farmer’s Market:

Farmersmarkets.usda.gov


In this dynamic; it makes it harder on the farmers and growers. They need to find ways of standing out. They may provide specialty items or unique/rare varieties of fruits and veggies. The issue is that once everybody sees what is selling; they all jump on the bandwagon. That farmer will need to keep innovating season after season and this keeps them on their toes.
It is hard being a farmer with the very long hours. These hours include: planning, seeds, planting, weeding, pest management, harvesting, packing, working the market, all the accounting work and many more things. It’s amazing that they get so much done.
So next time you walk through a farmer’s market please talk to them and see what they have to offer. What you see on their tables; really are the fruits of their labor. Please don’t even try to get a “better deal” on something. They have earned every single penny.